Dates: 3. 9. 2018 – 18. 8. 2019
Venue: Valmiera, Latvia
Programme and action: Erasmus+, KA1, European Voluntary Service – long-term
Please read the EVS infopack.
Volunteer: Matěj Polák
Hosting organization: A hosting organisation is Valmieras Novada fonds
Participating countries: Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Romania
Having graduated from high school in Spring 2018 I decided to take a gap year and go abroad. I consulted the EYCB website and found the EVS programme which was appealing to me thanks to its unusual venue and activities.
Before leaving I went through the pre-departure training where the basic principles of EVS, its fundamental structures and the upcoming activities were explained to me.
I was euphoric during my first week in Latvia and even the most common things around me seemed so exciting: the streets, the office, new colleagues and flatmates.
As for the work, the first week was all about getting to know. My co-workers let me try out the equipment (photo and video camera, tripod, computer,…) and get used to it. The second week, however, presented a first challenge to me — VNF hosted a study visit for community foundation managers from all around Europe and I was to document the talks and field trips. Connected to this task were several problems, stemming from insufficient communication between me and the VNF team, but eventually I managed to produce a few dozen photos and a short video summing up the week.
My tasks did not change much as the time went. It mostly consisted of documenting events sponsored by the VNF and the following photo and/or video editing. The production was almost completely carried out by me, my colleagues offered next to no criticism, alternation ideas and advice on the editing software. Being a beginner in the field, I would expect the opposite. I personally had the feeling that the quality of my production was very low.
Soon the feeling of unsuccess turned into frustration and so I started to look for other activities. I helped other volunteers organize events (children summer camp, international evenings, EVS presentation at a high school) because that’s when I had the feeling of being useful and contributing to the community.
It is hard for me to judge the project because looking back, it’s giving me mixed feelings. I know I made some mistakes during my time in Latvia but at the same time, the year abroad gave me a lot — it helped me become independent, mature and grow — just not quite there where I’d expected it in the first place.